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Brittnee Blair is our latest curl crush

Photograph by BRYAN WHITELY

Introducing Texture Talk, a column that dives deep into the dynamic world of curly hair, from crowns of free-flowing curls to locks that are tucked away in protective styling.

America’s Next Top Model may not have it all figured out when it comes to what the fashion industry really entails, but the drama between the contestants had a certain degree of precision – at least according to model and reality TV star Brittnee Blair. Her own foray into the fashion world accelerated when she moved to New York in 2013. “I stayed in a modeling apartment for my first few months and saw some things,” she says . “Some of the girls were really fierce. I’m talking about “Nair in your conditioner during fashion week“. Another seemingly made-for-TV moment involved a roommate throwing another model’s alarm clock out the window to ensure she would sleep during a casting call.

Luckily for Blair, those early experiences only worked to unlock a deeper sense of self-confidence. “New York challenged me to love myself and stand up for myself,” she told herself. “You learn that everyone has opinions — especially in castings — and eventually you also learn that you can’t take them to heart.”

“Sometimes it felt like a battle when I compared myself to white women… Eventually I realized I was never going to look like them – and I wasn’t supposed to.”

Now, having run campaigns for brands like John Frieda and Knix, Blair says her confidence is her biggest asset. However, that wasn’t always second nature to the Wilhelmina signee. “I grew up in south Calgary, in a predominantly white neighborhood, and I didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me,” says the former Big Brother Canada competitor. “Sometimes it felt like a battle when I compared myself to the white women around me and felt like I had to be a certain height or my hair had to look a certain way. Eventually I realized that I was never going to look like them – and that I wasn’t supposed to.

Photograph by BRYAN WHITELY

It was on television that Brittnee Blair finally saw glimmers of her own reflection in characters like Tyra Banks and Raven-Symoné. However, she says what resonated most with their portrayal was much more than the skin and adds that not only is Banks a beautiful woman whose color is celebrated, but her powerful personality and leadership role are even more relevant. Another source of inspiration? Ashley Graham. Blair first met her in an elevator en route to her first big gig – a photoshoot for Hanes’ Just My Size range.

Her first on-set experiences with the model were formative. “She taught me a lot about modeling. I learned how to move my body, how to network and how to be on set,” Blair explains. “I will be forever grateful to her.” While Blair mentions that he never Not so long ago having a fuller figure or even having “too much” curves was taboo, things finally started to change in the modeling world – and beyond.Now Brittnee Blair and Graham are part of a new class of models who champion size beauty with an exclamation mark, not an asterisk.

“I’m ready to see more changes, including brands that carry all sizes on one rack instead of separating certain sizes into a back corner, plus section, or even an entirely different store,” Blair says. “I’m happy to see how people are talking about their curves now and how they’re portrayed on social media – and in the media in general. It’s definitely time.

brittnee blair
Photograph by BRYAN WHITELY

This new wave of body acceptance has taken on a deeper meaning for Brittnee Blair now that she’s a new mum who knows that embodying self-love is the best way to instill that in her daughter. Although she’s only months away from motherhood (she gave birth on New Year’s Eve), she’s already pondering how her own relationship with beauty might influence her daughter. “I think about the challenges I’ve been through and how I would let people talk to me about my body, the color of my skin, or even who I am as a person,” she says. “I want her to know that it’s a beautiful thing to be a nice person, but it’s also important to stick it out.”

As Blair gets to grips with her postpartum body, she’s anchored by the confidence she honed during her early days of modeling. Do you want to challenge yourself every day to practice loving yourself? she says. Have a baby. “A lot of me has changed. There are new bumps and bumps, but at the end of the day, I have the utmost respect for my body. I can’t believe how resilient it is, how he’s strong, how powerful he is. I’m blown away.”

Browse the gallery below to check out Blair’s latest beauty favorites, who are tasked with working just as hard as the busy model and new mom.

This article first appeared in THE FASHION Can emit. Learn more here.